I’m willing to bet
money champagne that heaven is made of cheesecake. True, New York-style cheesecake, with loads of cream cheese and a buttery graham cracker crust.
The Food Network magazine tempted me last month with pictures of Emeril Lagasse’s Pumpkin Cheesecake. Even though I’ve only made cheesecake once in my life, and it’s not exactly for the faint of heart, I decided I’d give this recipe a whirl. My family’s Thanksgiving supper just got a whole lot sweeter (I hope).
The playlist when I cooked it: Bedouin Soundclash station on Pandora radio (reggae-rock tunes including Sublime and Ben Harper covering Bob Marley).
The shopping list:
1.5 cups/12 oz/340g vanilla wafer crumbs. (about 45 crushed wafers). $4.19/£2.70 for box
1 cup/8 oz/227g pecans, ground. $7.99/£5.15
1 stick/4 oz/113g unsalted butter, melted. $0.75/£0.48
2 pounds/32 oz/907g cream cheese, cubed and softened. $6.00/£3.87
1 cup/8 oz/227g packed light brown sugar. $0.99/£0.64 for 16 oz box
6 large eggs. $1.50/£0.97
0.5 cup/4 oz/113.4g heavy cream. $1.49/£0.96 for 8 oz carton
0.5 cup/4 oz/113.4g all-purpose flour. $1.99/£1.28 for 5 lb/80 oz bag
Pinch of salt.
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. $1.00/£0.64 for 3.7 oz
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. $2.79/£1.80 for 1 oz
2 cups/16 oz/454g canned pure pumpkin. $1.99/£1.28
Assuming you don’t have any of the above already, the ingredients total $30.68/£19.78, or $2.56/£1.65 per serving. Cheaper than buying a slice of cheesecake at a restaurant, and the added bonus of bragging rights if you can pull it off!
12 in/30.5 cm springform pan (can use smaller one and adjust the recipe measurements accordingly).
Mini food processor or brute strength/memories of crappy ex-boyfriend and a big Ziploc bag.
Preheat the oven to 350 F/176 C. Ground the pecans using a mini food processor if you have one.
If not, put the pecans in a Ziploc bag and bash with anything you can find. Follow the same process for the wafers. I used a glass measuring cup to do the smashing.
Combine the wafer crumbs, ground pecans and melted butter in a bowl. Press into the bottom of your 12-inch springform pan.
In a food processor (fitted with the metal blade) or with a hand-held mixer (I used a hand-held mixer), mix the softened cream cheese until smooth.
Add the brown sugar and process until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, processing until fully incorporated, then blend in the heavy cream. Add the flour, salt, cinnamon and blend until smooth. I blended the dry ingredients in a small bowl first to ensure that they would be evenly distributed.
Add vanilla and blend, and then lastly, add the pumpkin and blend.
Pour the filling over the crust in the pan.
Bake 1 hour, 15 min, or until the cheesecake is just set.
Remove from the oven. Use a knife to loosen the cake from the side of the pan; this will prevent it from splitting down the center. …Or not!
Maybe I left mine in too long (1 hour, 10 minutes, using a 9 in/22.9 cm pan)! Or maybe I whipped the cream cheese too long with the hand-held mixer. Ah, well, I can always use whipped cream to cover up the cracks! Let it cool before serving.
I refrigerated for a couple of hours before digging in.
The verdict? I enjoyed the pecan and pumpkin flavors in the crust and cheesecake. It wasn’t too light or too dense. The whipped cream adds the extra bit of sweetness this cheesecake needs. I think cooking it 15 minutes less and refrigerating overnight will take this recipe to the next level. If not? Good thing I have Cheesecake Factory on speed dial.
As for the clean-up, well, I’ve done worse.
This took about 40 minutes to prepare, as predicted, and serves 12.
Emeril suggests making a chocolate sauce and fresh whipped cream topping. I think whipped cream from a spray can will do just fine, thank you very much!